Monthly Archives: March 2009

Let the Madness Begin!

Mid-March marks the advent of Spring, but for sports fans, it’s also a special time of the year — the NCAA tournament takes place, which effectively crowns the best college basketball team in the country. The days between Selection Sunday (when the 65 teams who will be vying for the title are announced) and when the first round of games begin are a sacred time as March Madness veterans and novices alike do their best to predict the outcome of each game. Brackets are filled out (and crossed out and filled out agian) and bets are placed.

Today, someone mentioned that he had heard that I was intense in my bracket preparation.

Here’s the thing, folks: I approach my bracket the way I do pretty much life as a whole – if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it right.

In this case, I like to do my research (everyone has their own strategy, but of course I look at things like a team’s strength of schedule, overall record, experience, offensive and defensive ability, etc.). I will NEVER be a person who can blindly choose a team to win based solely on a gut feeling. I like to know that I came to my decision through some sort of method.

This is the third year I’ve filled out a bracket (and, yes, I am a purist – I do only fill out one that I use in all the different pools I’m a part of). Not only have I picked the winner the past two years, but I actually won my company’s pool. And, you know, it felt pretty amazing to have gained the respect of colleagues, friends, and basketball aficianados.

I think that’s why I take the whole thing so seriously: I like that my knowledge of basketball is validated through the success of my bracket.

As someone who really knows and gets me put it: “You’re a junky for whatever you focus on – it’s part of your charm.” 

Anyway, everything I’ve said can pretty much be invalidated in the next few hours, so I’ll end with this: GO TERPS!

Facebook Redesign 2009

I have recently been receiving quite a bit of traffic to this website from those who have specific questions about Facebook functionalities. If YOU are one of those people, I am more than happy to do my best to answer your question. To do so, simply leave your question in the form of a comment on this post. Hope this helps!

A few days ago, I had written a whole post (which is still in “draft” mode on my computer) about how every time Facebook changes its design, people get unnecessarily upset. The post went on to say that it’s was really a reflection of how it’s human nature to be inflexible and resistent to change. But, that was all before my account was updated with the new layout…

So, now, let me say that I am extremely disappointed in the latest redesign. I’m usually an avid Facebook supporter and could see the power of previous updates. This time around, I think Facebook has strayed from its core mission to make connecting with others easier. 

I really think that Facebook had almost perfected the “lifestreaming” concept. (In lifestream, your actions from within a site and from around the web are broadcast in chronological order – it really is a snapshot of the path you’ve taken on the internet.)

In this update, Facebook has segregated the way I see my friend’s actions on my “home” page. Status updates (and comments left for other people in the form of wall posts) are the primary focus, while joining of Groups, posting Photo Albums, and organizing Events are secondary. I think Facebook would have been wise to leave the home page alone except for having the page self-update. (This was previously possible to achieve by choosing the “live feed” option rather than the standard “top stories”. The page would automatically update as Facebook contacts took actions on the site.)

With this update, the way my actions are displayed has changed on my profile as well. I HATE the way that the “recent activity” is lumped together. Again, I liked that people could see that I had posted something, added pictures, joined a group, etc. Now the main focus is on comment and status updates. (A smaller point is that they’ve removed the option to pick how visible stories appear – before you could choose how prominently and how much information/space was given to each action.)

During the last redesign, individuals who so chose were able to provide feedback on upcoming changes. I wish that Facebook had leveraged the community once again this time around — maybe that would have helped flesh out some of the more misguided updates.

Another Friend Laid Off

Last night, I was awakened by a call from a friend.

(Let’s back up for a second. It was about 11:06pm when I received the call. I had fallen asleep eight pages into A New Earth. When the phone rang not only did I have no idea where I was even though all the lights were still on but it took me some time to figure out what was making noise. Tell me, am I not the oldest twenty-three-year-old you’ve ever met? I guess my only saving grace is that evenings like this aren’t the norm.)

Anyway, I don’t usually receive calls that late so I had a feeling something was wrong… and unfortunately, I was right. My friend called to tell me she had been let go from her job.

If you had asked me a year ago if I would be counseling friends who had been laid off, the idea probably would have been inconceivable to me. But, sadly, it’s become all too real as the number of friends who have experienced this continues to grow.

To be honest, there’s nothing to be said that the person hasn’t already heard or told themselves… There’s the trite “don’t take it personally, it’s just the economy” and “look at this as an opportunity to re-evaluate what you want to do”. While both those statements are true, they don’t do much to reassure someone who is just worried about where they’ll get the money for their next rent check.

(And for this person specifically, I think her former employer handled the situation extremely poorly. Not only did they wait until the end of the day and  fail to offer her any type of monetary assistance – at least pay the poor girl through the end of the week! – but also they didn’t volunteer to reach out to their contacts or offer to act as references.)

What I kept hearing during our conversation was how ashamed my friend was – she had never been fired from anything previously. This is the one thing I wish I could convince her of: getting laid off is NOT the same as being fired. Especially in this deep, widespread recession, lay offs continue to occur and I don’t think that anyone views it as a reflection of personal ability (at least I hope they don’t)! Unfortunately, I know this is all easier to say than to believe…

The only thing to be thankful for (why must I always look for the silver lining?) is that my age group doesn’t yet have inflexible responsibilities like children (and spouses) and mortgages. We really only have to worry about ourselves at this point and if times get really bad, we know that we could always give up our apartments and move back in with our parents… Not the best case scenario, but a safe option for weathering this uncertain financial storm.

Hopefully, things only get better from here…